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Daniel Good Rare Books and Engravings

1558 Blue trout, Conrad Gesner, folio woodcut, hand coloured, First State

1558 Blue trout, Conrad Gesner, folio woodcut, hand coloured, First State

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First State.


The bezola was a species of freshwater whitefish in the family Salmonidae. It was endemic to the Lac du Bourget in Savoie, France where it was pelagic in deep water. It is known from specimens collected in the late 19th century, and was reported by fishermen to have disappeared in the 1960s.

Unidentified woodcut artist for Konrad Gesner (aka Conrad Gesner; Philiatrus Euonymus) (1516–1565)

Fine folio woodcut leaf. With uncoloured second woodcut to verso.

38 x 21.7 cm

Issued in: Historiae animalium libri IIII qui est de piscium & aquatilium animantium natura, Zurich, Christopher Froschover, 1558.

References: Westwood & Satchell, p.105; Adams C598; Nissen ZBI 1553

FIRST EDITION. Due to a relative paucity of literature on fish from the classical era, Gesner based his work on contemporary research and first-hand observation. As a result, although the species are described in alphabetical order, the descriptions place much emphasis on the physical appearance of species and provide references to wider groups of morphologically similar fish. Similarly, the work is the first scholarly publication in which illustrations play a fundamental role. 

One of the most sought after woodcut from the work is this terrifying depiction of a Baleen whale based on the work of Olaus Magnus and mentioned by Gesner as an examples of animals which exist but have not been correctly depicted.

First state of the woodcut with rich inking and a very strong impression.

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